A photograph analyzed by the Arizona Game and Fish Department confirmed that the last jaguar to venture into Arizona was killed recently in Mexico.
A photo of a jaguar pelt was independently analyzed by six Arizona Game and Fish (AZGFD) biologists to see if the pelt’s spot patterns match photographs of a male cat last seen in Arizona in May 2017. All six biologists concluded it was the same cat.
“We are saddened to report that this was the so-called ‘Huachuca cat’ that was seen in Arizona in late 2016 and early 2017,” said Jim deVos, AZGFD assistant director of the Wildlife Management Division. “We still don’t know when, where or why it was taken, but it’s a loss we’re all feeling.”
Like human fingerprints, every jaguar’s spots form unique patterns, and by isolating and reviewing photos of the spot patterns, AZGFD biologists were able to find exact matches between photos of the pelt and trail camera photos taken when the lone male jaguar crossed into the United States some 18 months ago.
Jaguars are only occasional visitors to Arizona and despite claims by the Center For Biological Diversity, no female jaguar has been seen in the U.S. since the 1960s. No jaguars are currently reported in Arizona, and according to deVos, there is little likelihood they would ever re-establish a presence here.
AZGFD biologists looked closely at these jaguar spot patterns to determine all these photos were from the same animal. AZGFD continues to work closely with our international partners to conserve and recover jaguars.
AZGFD remains committed to helping conserve the species. The Department uses taxpayer dollars to work closely with Mexican scientists and wildlife officials throughout the Americas to collaborate, study and conserve jaguars populations. In fact, at the “International Jaguar and Wild Felines Symposium” last month in Cancun, Mexico, AZGFD was the only U.S. entity invited to attend.